29 September 2012


As a missionary in Miami in the mid-1980's, I had the opportunity to get know many Latin cultures, but I felt a particular affinity for the Cubans.  Perhaps that's because they essentially ran Miami as a northern suburb of Havana (which, let's face it, it is) or maybe it's because their preferred method of cleaning the house was to simply bring in a hose from the backyard and spray down every last bit of the plastic-encased furniture and formica sculptures, but I digress.  A common refrain I heard from Cuban brothers and sisters on cleaning days, as well as pretty much any day, was 'Preparate!,' loosely meaning 'Get ready.'

I thought about that one word command a lot today as the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I made our way to the nearest big box hardware emporium to buy this:
The latest addition to our garage
Yes, we are the proud new owners of a Troy-Bilt 7,000 watt generator. Jealous?  Don't be.  This surrender to Mother Nature purchase means we really or that we will really need something like this.  Last year, before moving to this fine little corner of New England, they bore the brunt of a brutal, weird storm in October.  Our neighborhood was without power for 10, count 'em, 10 days.  Now if you're keeping score, you know that for the six years that we lived in Chicago, we never put a backup battery on our ancient sump pump. This meant that we spent each and every storm praying, sacrificing goats, doing whatever it took to make sure that thing kept running and that our basement did not turn into an open sewer.  By some miracle, it worked.  This time, though, we've decided not to play those odds.

Now we live in the sticks.  It's not like we can just run down the street to get a few things in the event of a power outage.  No, if we lose power for a day, let alone days on end, we will  have to fend for ourselves.  So adding the generator makes the spectre of living 'Little Hell House in the Prairie' just a little easier. Now to figure out how to work the thing...

I couldn't help thinking about the many lessons in Church over the years about the need to be prepared and living providently.  It is wise counsel. It's made us a bit of a peculiar people and not especially popular with movers. There's always an ugly moan when they see the boxes of food storage.  I for one hope that we never have to break into that stuff but if we do, I know we'll get by.  Oh the things we'll do with ground wheat!

24 September 2012

Just a little bit off

It was a good weekend with the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and the Boy.  We didn't do anything especially exciting, but it was good to relax.  Really good as a matter of fact.

That said, though, I woke up yesterday feeling just a little bit off.  Not physically, but just a little off.  By midday, that off feeling was beginning to feel a bit like foreboding.  I could not put my finger on that sense, nor could I shake it.  It was more than a little strange.  Even stranger was the moment at Church when the speaker less than subtly declared we should vote for Mitt because of his charitable behavior.  I'm sure this thrilled the Mittites but I think that may have been some of the source of my foreboding.

Then today two of my children Tweeted about their weeks starting off in a way that suggests it is going to be a rough week for each of them.  I think that's where my sense of being just a bit off was coming from.  I hope I'm still in synch with them as they continue to grow up.  I hope that never goes away.

20 September 2012


Another birthday. Someone is another year older and finds himself one year closer to death (I kid).  Yep, it's my birthday. Based on the average life expectancy of an American male (76 years), I am solidly middle-aged and, having crested the halfway hump, am on the downward slog to the end.  Good times ahead is all I can say.

I realized today, on this auspicious anniversary of my birth, that I have now spent more than half my life with the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML.  Do you know what a good thing that is?  It is a very good thing. I can't imagine celebrating this day with anyone else.

I've hardly had time to wax philosophical or contemplate what it means to be another year older.  I don't older.  I rarely do.  No self-respecting 46 year old should laugh as hard as I do watching "Dodgeball." Seeing that kid getting nailed in the face by a wrench never get old.  Never. Ever.

So I'm one year older.  Hoping that I'm getting better with age.  I sure hope so.

18 September 2012

Just some stuff

It's a bit of stormy night here in New England and the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML is waiting for one of the trees in the neighborhood to take out a power line.  I find myself nearly devoid of thought right now, but I'll share a few of the things that have been swirling around in my head of late:

  • I really like air conditioning.  I had to make a presentation today in front of about 60 people that was also being webcast to about one hundred other people and the room was as hot as the Edgware Road Tube Stop on a scorching summer's day in London.  I was sweating so much down my back you could have surfed down my spine.  Would it have killed them to turn on the A/C?  No it would not.
  • The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML has been seeking my opinion on new hairstyles.  This has included her doing her hair in some of the suggested styles and asking what I think.  This will not end well for me.  The good news is that, so far, we've been laughing about the potential options.
  • I'm getting obsessed with the Civil War again.  Cannot wait for "Lincoln" opening in November.
  • It's feeling just a little bit like fall, which means this year is thismuchcloser to being over.  How can that be?
  • One of my new favorite people on Twitter is this guy: @ldsbishop because of tweets like this:
Mitt Romney increasingly reminds me of that old high priest
you wish wouldn't spout their views during Sunday school
  • Mitt's latest gaffe reflection of his true feelings, the one in which he claims that 47% of Americans will automatically vote for Obama because they are dependent on the government and pay no income taxes, and his flipping on it, claiming he had not spoken elegantly, demonstrates further the gap between him and, well, real people.
  • Mike Birbiglia is a brilliant comedian and storyteller. 
Like I said, just some stuff tonight here in the Den.  

14 September 2012

Free speech...with a price

The events of the last several days in the Middle East have left me just a little sad.  American diplomats have lost their lives, senselessly, and at least seven Arabs have been killed in protests.

This whole thing is senseless to me. America's ambassador to Libya did not need to die. That seven people have died in protests over an anti-Islamic movie produced by a convicted felon (financial crimes and drug charges) and promoted by an extremist (ah, the irony) Florida pastor, is senseless.

What is it about the freedom of speech that empowers people to think that the things they say have no consequences?  It is insane to me to think that your words have no consequences.  They do.  Their is a price for free speech.  In this case, it's being paid in blood.  Not good.

It's been interesting to see the blogosphere light up on this one.  Somehow the violent reaction of a small minority of Arabs to what they perceive as blasphemy makes it OK to paint an entire group as blood-thirsty hate fiends.  Glenn Beck is weighing in, which is almost as frightening as the protests, and can only mean that he will use broad brush strokes of tired stereotypes to blame the entire Arab population for this and somehow tie the President to it as well.  Thanks, Brother Beck.

What's happening in the Middle East is not simply about this film.  It would be naive to think so.  There are many other issues at play that are causing the ongoing unrest.  Many of those reasons are ones that we will never understand. Calling for a swift and violent response will solve nothing.  Talk about adding fuel to the fire...

Words can sometimes be the most deadly weapons of them all.  Choose them wisely.

11 September 2012

On 9-11

In honor of the eleventh anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, I share with you what I shared last year, when the anniversary fell on a Sunday, and I was leading services at Church.  Here's the text of those remarks:

Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was an unusually bright, clear late summer day in New York City.  The images of those brilliant but skies are seared into our collective memories; however, now we remember the smoke that choked that blue sky.  We remember the image of a plane slamming into the now-fallen World Trade Center.  We remember images of people jumping from the burning towers in order to escape the roaring flames.  We also remember the pictures of firefighters and police personnel who ran into the towers in an epic, valiant struggle to save their fellowmen.  We are haunted by the heroic words uttered by a passenger on board United 93, "Let's roll!" as those few passengers decided to stop the terrorists from hitting yet another target.

The terror of that day, ten years ago, is still fresh for so many of us.  It is an event that touched us all and it is a defining moment in not only American history, but world history.  In the days following these horrific events, our nation came together in a way that many said had not been since World War II.  I remember standing in our front yard in our home in California with our neighbors as we joined our fellow countrymen in a national moment of prayer.  It was as if our nation was seeking spiritual comfort as a whole in those dark days after the attacks.

That sense of unity and desire to seek spiritual comfort as a nation has abated in the ten years since that unforgettable day.  Our nation has found its way back to its divisive ways.  In his first official blog post printed earlier this week in the Washington Post's "On Faith" column, President Thomas S. Monson, said, "Sadly, it seems that much of that renewal of faith has waned in the years that have followed.  Healing has come with time, but so has indifference.  We forget how vulnerable and sorrowful we felt.  Our sorrow has moved us to remember the deep purposes of our lives.  The darkness of our despair brought us a moment of enlightenment.  But we are forgetful.  When the depth of grief has passed, its lessons often pass from our minds and hearts as well."

The Scriptures are rife with examples of how we, the children of a loving, caring Heavenly Father, have forgotten our Father and the lessons of lives time and time again.  The Book of Mormon is especially illustrative of this cycle of forgetfulness but it also shows our Father's consistent, loving commitment to us.  In his blog post, President Monson continued, saying, "Our Father's commitment to us, His children, is unwavering.  Indeed He softens the winter of our lives, but He also brightens our summers.  Whether it is the best of times or the worst, He is with us.  He has promised us that this will never change."

President Monson, our prophet, reminds us that if there was a spiritual lesson to be learned from the events of 9/11, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us.  He said, "We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or crises of our lives.  It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust.  We too should be with Him in every season."

As we reflect today, ten years after the events of 9/11, may we remember those whose lives were lost.  May we pray on behalf of them and those they left behind.  May we also reflect on what has happened to us in the years since that day.  Let us not forget who we are.  We are children of a loving Heavenly Father who has been steadfast and unwavering in His commitment to us.  May we be faithful to Him in times of crisis and times of calm.  May we make Him and His Son the center of our thoughts and the pattern for our actions.  May we remember the counsel of the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni as he raised the Title of Liberty in preparation for righteous battle, 'In memory of our God, our religion and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.'  If we do so, we will be blessed.  

May we never forget.

09 September 2012


And so it is that we honor other birthday here in the Den - today the Boy celebrates his 17th birthday.  Like last year, with the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML traveling, he celebrates his birthday with just one parent - me. I suppose it could be worse for him, but I think it's been a good birthday weekend all the way around.

With just the two of us in the house, I was able to rouse him from his teenage death sleep with the smells of bacon, sweet, glorious bacon.  It woke him but not enough to drag him out of bed.  That was fine because I had my act together enough to bring him breakfast in bed.  Eggs and the aforementioned bacon were the stars on his tray.  He seemed pleased.  He seemed pleased with his gifts - all golf-related, so all is well in the world.  Not the creepy Mormon Mommy blogger 'so blessed, so perfect' well, but things are good.

The Boy is growing into a truly fine young man.  He's made some really good choices.  His older bosses sisters have been excellent examples to him.  He's made sure our lives as parents are never, ever dull (e.g. a text about a high quality BM).  He keeps us on our toes.  He's getting ready for young adulthood.  I think he's going to do just fine.

Happy birthday, son.

08 September 2012

He drove what?

With the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML out West doing a host o'things like getting CAL settled in her new digs; spending time with her parents and the Awesomes, and most importantly, buying a mess of tortillas from Costco (our WASPy state doesn't seem to allow them - I still blame Martha Stewart for this travesty), the Boy and I are enjoying some cool quality time together.

I'm not being snarky about that.  I am one blessed, lucky Dad.  I've got a teen-age son who, in spite of a life full of activity, doesn't seem to mind hanging out with his parents.  And more importantly, he doesn't seem to mind talking to us. We had some fun conversations today and one took us down the path of the cars my father drove as I was growing up.

My dad was a serious man.  He was an attorney who took enormous pride in the dignity of the profession and was appalled by lawyer jokes.  He was a dedicated servant in Church and to God.  As I described him when I spoke at his funeral, "Dad was the kind of man who would have been more comfortable mowing the lawn in a suit."  So it's no surprise, in answer to the Boy's question, I said, "Sedans.  Big, American sedans like Ford LTD's and Buick Park Avenues." Thanks to the miracle of the interwebs, as we sat in a restaurant pounding down crabcakes, swordfish, and lobster rolls, the Boy pulled up a couple images of said 1970's era land yachts.  Then I told him, "Well, there was the one year when he drove a Datsun 280ZX."  Once I explained that Datsun was Nissan, the Boy's jaw hit the ground.  "He drove what?"  And within seconds, he had an image of the car.  "You mean, Grandpa drove this?"
Yep, Grandpa drove this, son.
If only for one year, Grandpa had the closest thing his personality allowed to a mid-life crisis.  He drove a black Datsun 280ZX with a 5-speed transmission. This action was totally incongruous with who he was.  I think the stocks of both Ford and GM fell several percentage points the day he leased that Datsun.

I was ecstatic about this car.  Dad was in the habit of leasing a car every three years and I was 13 when he got this and it took about two seconds for me to do the math.  I'd be turning 16 when he would return the car.  I decided then and there that I would launch a one-man effort to make sure it would be my car. Even at 13, weighing about 90 lbs and with puberty still a ways off, I knew if I had a cool car when I was 16, I might have a chance with the ladies.  As information, I was an idiot then.

Suffice to say, Dad took a ribbing with pretty much everyone who knew him when he got this car.  It only lasted one year in the family garage.  He would be back in a Buick by early 1980.  My dreams of getting the ladies with my 280ZX were shattered.  Dad's fondness for the OMC, or Old Man Car, lives on with me today.  I have an OMC and I'm fine with that.

What I'm really fine with was the good time the Boy and I had talking today.  It was great to relive some of those memories of growing up and sharing some stories with him about my Dad.  It was fun to see him processing the image of his Grandpa driving a sports car.  Most importantly, it was good to have the time with my son today.  Like I said, I'm pretty lucky.

07 September 2012


It's been a fairly hideous week at work.  Four day work weeks, at least in my world, are awful and this one was pretty epic in terms of the beat down that I was served.  I will speak no more of it.

Instead, we hit a couple of milestones this week here in the Den, with one yet to come.  The first - CAL returned to her own Private Idaho to start her sophomore year of college. It is an absolute delight to see how she has grown during her freshman year. It was great to spend some time with her during her break.  It was fun to see how excited she is about what awaits her in this second year of college.  She'll get a chance to do some student teaching.  I cannot wait to hear how that goes!

The second milestone - the Boy got his drivers license here in our fine new state.  This was round three of going to the DMV for us.  This last experience was absolutely Dickensian in the scope of its horror.  The flotsam and jetsam of humanity that was assembled there embodied the saying, "Rode hard and put away wet." I do not understand why the DMV is the village of the damned that it is. This much I know...someone just needs to set up a video camera there, press 'record' and walk away.  It'll be the best, and most awful, reality show ever. I'd have to shoot myself though after a few hours of watching though.  I'm just saying.

And the upcoming milestone - a birthday.  The Boy is a few days away from a birthday, his 17th.  How did this happen?  How is it that my youngest child is 17? The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML is already weeping at the recognition that he is a mere two years away from his mission.  Oh my...

03 September 2012

Three Years On

September 3, 2009 was like any other day.  It was one of the days I went into my office, rather than working from home.  I remember that I was beginning to wrap up my day when my brother called. The message he bore was completely unexpected - our father had died suddenly.  Time literally stood still and for the next days and weeks, time became something of a surreal concept.  It seemed unreal that Dad was gone and that we no longer had him.

But time has a funny way of readjusting itself.  Time does, in fact, march on and to use another tired adage, it (time) does heal all wounds.  It's funny, though, how anniversaries open up those wounds, even if only a little bit. Today is that day when the wound of my father's passing opens up a little.  I've decided that's OK.  It's OK to still miss my Dad.  The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML lost her dad nearly 20 years ago and she still misses that good man.  It's more than OK to miss those people who had such a profound impact on our lives.

Dad was an example of tremendous patience, kindness, and concern for others. His legacy lives on in the lives of the people he touched, taught, and served.  I am grateful that that legacy touched the lives of my children.  I hope they'll never forget the impact he had on their lives.  I'm also grateful that he took the time to write down so much of what was important to him in this life.  Those writings will serve as a testament of what he believed and who he was.

He was a great man.  I'm a part of that legacy, as I, along with my brother, carry his name forward.  I'm so glad for the time that we had together.  I find great peace in knowing that I will see him again.  He believed in   God's plan of salvation and he knew he would see his family again.  I know that too.  This time without him is brief in the eternal scheme of things.  I'm glad to know I'll see him again.

I'm glad I had a good man as a Dad.  Hard to believe he's been gone three years.